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Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday's Book Musings

Usually we have Musical Musings on the second Monday, but we are having a book musings instead!

Over the upcoming months we have a line up of books for our Revgalbookpals monthly discussions which are led by our members and offer us an opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas over a common book. We thought it would be a good idea to go over the line up PLUS get some input from you for our summer selections. First, let's look at the monthly line up:

February 25
February is unique in that we are discussing both a book and a video. An Infinity of Little Hours by Nancy Klein Macguire, is an exploration of the monastic community of Carthusians, who live their lives similarly to their 11th century founder. Macguire interviews five men who entered into the the most ascetic of the monastics in the 1960s. What has transpired over the 40+ years? Do they all stay? All leave? Find out by reading the book.

For those of you who would like to be a "fly on the wall" into a Carthusian monastery, Into Great Silence is a movie which documents the life of the monastics in the French Alps at Grande Chartreuse, one of the most ascetic of the world's monasteries. The director of the film inquired about documenting it in 1984. They told him they would get back with him when they were ready. Sixteen years later...... they were ready and hence the film. I had the opportunity to watch this in a movie theater last summer. There were five of us in there, with no one sitting beside each other. It was the quietest 2+ hours I had experienced in a long time. However, with the silence come the sounds that we DO hear when there is silence. It's like no other movie I have seen. Oh, and if you subscribe to Netflix, you can watch it online through Instant Movies.
Here is a brief excerpt from the movie:

Michelle from Quantum Theology will lead in the discussion.

March 24
March's book discussion will be the day after Easter Sunday and as clergy from all over will be collapsing in their chairs from the Holy Week services the week before, Songbird (where does she get that energy?) will lead us in a discussion of the book Bread and Wine, an anthology of readings for each of the days of Lent and Easter. These are from writers and theologians across the world and centuries. I do know this - in the month of January, 62! of this particular book were ordered through Amazon through our links, so you all must have thought this book was a keeper! They probably even had to order more!

April 28
The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson will be the book we will discuss in April, with Quotidian Grace and Presbyterian Gal leading in the discussion. For those of you who like fiction, this book is for you. I provide you with the summary provided on Amazon's web site by Publisher's Weekly:

Robertson offers in his absorbing American debut (two novels have been published in the U.K.) the cleverly framed autobiography of a Scottish minister who confronts the devil. A brief foreword claims the book is an autobiography penned by Gideon Mack, a Church of Scotland minister who, after allegedly encountering the devil, becomes a pariah and madman before disappearing. Raised by a harsh minister father, Gideon abandons faith at an early age, but later discovers it's possible to "be a Christian without involving Christ very much" and secures the pulpit at a small coastal church where he proves to be a gifted preacher. After his wife dies in a traffic accident, Gideon consummates a long-held obsession with old friend Elsie, whose husband, John, is also a longtime friend. A conflicted Gideon, while walking with another minister, falls into a gorge and is presumed dead. But he appears downstream, only slightly injured, three days later. His survival is miraculous, but his account of what happened is scandalous: he was saved by the devil. Gideon's struggle to find meaning in his experience leads to his undoing. Gideon's sly unreliability is cloaked by Robertson's mastery of language and command of the elements of fiction; the combination is addictive and captivating. (Apr.)
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May 19 (please note this is the 3rd Monday in May)
May brings the book Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles. From the author's web site she shares this about her memoir:

The story of an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian conversion, told by a very unlikely convert, TAKE THIS BREAD is not only a spiritual memoir but a call to action. Raised as an atheist, Sara Miles lived an enthusiastically secular life as a restaurant cook and writer. Then early one morning, for no earthly reason, she wandered into a church. “I was certainly not interested in becoming a Christian,” she writes. “Or, as I thought of it rather less politely, a religious nut.” But she ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine, and found herself radically transformed....


The book selections for the months of June, July, and August are going to be reads which reflect the time which most of us associate with the summer months, those where we relax and read books for joy, escaping, and who knows, maybe even whimsy! However, we haven't decided on these books yet. We would like YOUR input.

Have a favorite children's book that you think adults need to read? Suggest it!
Been wanting to read a book but haven't found the time to read it and you think summer is the perfect time? Suggest it!

Here is what we ask for these books - we would like them to be in paperback and be readily available through Amazon, both here in the US and overseas.

Remember these are the months which many of us have a little extra time and get to read what we've been wanting to read, but just haven't gotten around to it!

So..... what book would YOU recommend for the summer?


  1. I just noticed The Testament of Gideon Mack is bargained priced at 5.99. Check it out!

  2. ok! And I'm reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane right now, and think that might be a good children's book for summer.

  3. Hmm...Lamb (by Christopher Moore) is my favorite summer re-read. Ordinary Time, life of Jesus, Lamb! :-)

    I don't normally recommend books like this, but perhaps "A Respectable Trade"--a novel about a woman who finds herself married off to a slave trader in 19th century England. I thought it was going to be one of those fluff historical novels, but it turned out to surprise me.

    And one of my fave reads from last summer: Acts of Faith, by Philip Caputo. About aid workers, mercenaries, mercenary aid workers, rebels, and villagers in Sudan. So good.

    That's what I've got in my recommendation list for right off to Amazon to stock up on the books for upcoming months!

  4. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi is an excellent book and unpacks the complexity of what has happened in Iran over the last 30 years. The true story is told by a woman, a writer and a university professor who teaches literature and several of her female students.

    And, Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards - story of twins, one of whom has down syndrom. The father makes the decision, without his wifes knowledge, to send the DS child to an institution. He tells his wife the second twin died at birth. The story unpacks the complicated ways our lives are lived out when we don't deal honestly with our decisions and actions. It is, however, a beautiful story.

  5. Love the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane!

    A great young adult book is Looking for Alaska by John Green.

    I've heard great things about Nora Gallagher's novel, Changing Light.

  6. Girl with a pearl earring (set in 1660s in Holland) is a beautiful read. I read it last month

    I'd also recommend Helen Dunmore's House of Orphans - set in FINLAND in 1902

    neither are set in the church world though ... maybe that's JUST what we need on the beach :)

  7. I'd like to read with you all "Here If You Need Me" by Kate Braestrup, the memoir of a woman who is suddenly widowed, whose deceased husband had always thought about going to seminary to become a minister. She decides to go instead, even though she doesn't see herself in that role at all.
    Also loved "Edward Tulane".
    Didn't like Memory Keeper's Daughter one bit. Too predictable and I didn't think even very interestingly written.

  8. We're looking at Braestrup's book for September, as it comes out in paperback in July. Thanks for mentioning it!
    I love Edward Tulane, a terrific book.

  9. I found the Memory Keeper's Daughter depressing, personally.

    I've been flipping through "A Treasury to Inspire Our Children" edited by Marian Wright Edelman. Most of the stories are a page or two, and the pictures are lovely.

  10. I will say that my book club LOVED Memory Keepers Daughter. More than I did. A friend is going to lend me Here If You Need Me as soon as she's done. So that's on my list too.

  11. Edward Tulane is on my list to read, so I'll give a vote to that one. I couldn't finish Memory Keeper's Daughter myself, too many twin and baby issues for I would skip that one. I've ordered the next three books, and look forward to the discussions. (BTW, the 5.99 price on The Testament of Gideon Mack only had 5 copies left this morning.)

  12. I'll ditto teri's suggestion of Christopher Moore's book, Lamb, as a summer read. Loved it!

  13. Oh these books --- I have many on my to be read list and have copies of them too. Lorna, somewhere I have heard about the book you mention - House of Orphans - just need to remember where!

    Looking for Alaska looks intriguing also! Shoot, they all do!

    Keep the recommendations coming and thank you!

  14. May I suggest "Godless" by Pete Hautman. Came out a few years ago, teen novel about a group of teenagers who worship the town water tower. Readily available at many libraries and in paperback at amazon etc. Won the National Book Award for Young People in 2005.

  15. I'm all about the children's books!

    Old Turtle (and its sequel) by Douglas Wood

    The Quiltmakers Gift (and prequel) by Jeff Brumbeau

    The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola

    God in Between by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso (really anything by her)

    What Does Love Look Like? by Janette Oke

    You are Special by Max Lucado (and others by him from)

    These are some of my favorites!


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